As the thousands of blogs out there testify, blogging is something that brings people

personal rewards. However, as with any activity, it is helpful to know why you are doing it. Are you blogging just to get words off your chest? Are you trying to make a difference in some way? Are you auditioning for real publication further down the line? Know your purpose before you blog, if you have a calculated purpose.

A lot of bloggers got started for this reason. They love writing, but they wanted a forum where they didn’t have to risk rejection (or even editing), where they could just put their thoughts down and see what other people thought of them. This is one thing that blogs are great for. However, the sheer number of blogs out there means that people who just use their blogs as a casual writing outlet won’t ever get really high readership — because it’s just a casual hobby.

Did you just get back from a month in Tanzania? You have a lot to update the family about. Of course, if your sister just gave birth to triplets, you both have big news for everyone. There are some blogs that are only available for private viewing that contain the latest exploits of the extended family. These can be fun to read, even if they’re public and you don’t know the people whose adventures you are reading.

Tired of the latest choices in your local election? Is the City Council in need of a total overhaul? Your blog could be the place where the revolution begins — if you’re informed, you know your facts, and you can get your blog out there in front of a lot of readers. Your blog gives you a voice; it is how you manage your blog that will dictate how loudly your voice is heard.

Are you starting a pet walking service, or selling NutriSystem products? Your blog can be a great place to get the word out. By using the same publication tools that benefit other types of blogs, you can get your product or service in front of a large audience, and the hope is the size of the audience will make your blog into a major source of profit.

Are you one of the select few people who have seen all of the “Star Trek” television shows AND all of the related movies? Then you have some cultural expertise that places you above most of the reading public. You could put together a blog about all of the trivial aspects of this famed crew, making a resource out of yourself at science fiction conventions. You can use your blog to show that you know a lot about this topic — and to establish yourself as a marketable expert.

It’s true that some people blog because they are bored and want to feel like they are accomplishing something. However, if you want your blog to make a difference, you need to know your audience and your goal — and target your writing to both.

The Top Five Errors that Bloggers Make

When you started your blog, you might have felt that you were starting a whole new publishing medium. The fact is, though, that hundreds of new blogs start each day. Because you have so much competition out there as a blogger, it can be hard to put together a blog that is fresh in content and easily distinguished from the competition. By avoiding these mistakes, you can establish yourself as a fascinating blogger — and build an audience.

Keep your blog updated regularly. You don’t have to blog every day, but you will want to update it several times a week. Keep the content coming — even if you just present a YouTube interview that’s in your niche, that can count as a blog posting — and keep your readers refreshed. If you want them to stay interested, you have to give them new stimuli.

Use search engine optimization to maximize your blog’s visibility. When you come up with a topic for your blog posting, use one of the available SEO tools out there to get your posting in front of as many people as possible. All it takes is including some phrases and words that have been identified as common searches for your blog posting to jump out.

You’re not writing in calligraphy — you’re writing a blog. If you have a hot pink script on a black background, it might look cool from an artistic point of view, but it will be annoying to read, and your blog fans will run away screaming from the headache. Pick a clear font and set your design up so that your text contrasts neatly with the background but in a way that is visually pleasing.

You do want your readers to share your posting on their social media profiles, don’t you? Then make it easy for them. Either share your posts yourself so that it shows up on your friends’ news feeds, or make the link readily available for people to grab and paste in their own status updates. Either way, doing this will help you build your readership.

If you’re going to put up content, you have to tell people where it came from — if you didn’t write it or take the picture. You learned this way back in middle school when you wrote that first research paper, but the concept is still the same. If someone has taken the time to create content, you must give them the courtesy of telling your readers where you sourced it, so that the original creator will get the intellectual credit. After all, you wouldn’t want people stealing your content and presenting it as their own, so don’t do it to them.

Just because there are hundreds of blogs out there does not mean that yours cannot be one of the best. However, sometimes it’s helpful to learn from the mistakes that other people make. Staying away from these common errors will keep your blog out of the “trash heap” of the unread.